Koh Chieng Mun, one of the stars of the hit Hollywood movie Crazy Rich Asians, recently spoke at an AXA IM event in Singapore. The Singaporean gave her views on longevity, describing the highlights of her long career, the health issues she has overcome, and why to her retirement is a “dirty word”.

Playing a lead character, Dolly, in the popular Singapore sitcom Under One Roof made Koh Chieng Mun a household name. “Dolly is somebody who is in the hearts and minds of most Singaporeans,” she told the audience of investors and asset managers.

“In many cases, actresses get hung up about playing an older role, especially a mother. When I started Under One Roof, I was in my 30s. Now I’m nearly 60.”

Chieng Mun attributed the length of her career – which started in 1990 – to passion. She said: “When you do something, you must always know what is needed, and then you do all that you know with 100% passion. You really have to inject 100% of what you know into your work, 100% passion and 100% heart.”

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Longevity means good health

Chieng Mun was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. She said: “I came out of it. I’m still a survivor and I’m very, very grateful that I can still have a normal life. Every day when I wake up in the morning, I check myself: ‘Am I normal?’, and then, I’m very, very, very grateful. I think the Lord has blessed me with coming back and being able to do everything that I like to do. This motivates me to keep going.”

To enjoy a long and happy live, Chieng Mun advised: “You have to take care of yourself physically.

“I work on my core and my back because I’m already 60 so you know those are the parts of the body that will cause trouble me if I don’t take care of it.”

She continued: “And then of course you have to take care of yourself mentally. I think that mental health is very, very important. Of course, financially, you need to pace yourself carefully, so that you can last well into your years without too much worry.

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“When I was diagnosed with cancer, I had a health plan that gave me a good payout, so I did not have the problem of worrying about my medical bills. I think that contributes to getting better, in case you get any problems with your health. I think longevity means the idea of having a good life well into your 60s, 70s, 80s – now they say you’re going to live until 120 – so do make sure that all those things are in place.”

Retirement is a “dirty word”

Financial security to pay for a longer life is also important to Chieng Mun. She said. “When I was working and the opportunity to make money, I made sure that I had a retirement fund and worked toward it,” she explained. “I will always lead a simple life. If I cannot afford it, I won’t buy it. I don’t like to go into a situation where I’m short of cash and I don’t know what to do with my finances.

“Take care of your fundamentals and with the money that you have, look into how you can have further gain.”

Chieng Mun told the audience: “I think retirement is a dirty word. I am not going to retire! As an actress, I will go on because the shelf life of an actress really means that you can act till the day you die.”

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